Company Spotlight: Advanced Ceramic Fibers

Super strength, super speed, super durability and super senses; Superman may be known as the Man of Steel, but what if the steel he’s named after was even stronger? On top of that, what if through the process of making the steel stronger, it became lighter?

No, this isn’t foreshadowing to a future DC Comic Book. It’s the science behind Advanced Ceramic Fibers.

“If you have a steel bar and you give it a strength test, at some point it’s going to fail,” said Ken Koller. “But if you add in our material, the steel bar will be lighter and stronger.”

Ken Koller, CEO/COO, and Dr. John E. Garnier, Founder/CTO

Ken is the Chief Executive and Chief Operating Officer of Advanced Ceramic Fibers in Idaho Falls, Idaho, where they specialize in a proprietary one-step Direct Conversion Process™ that enables any material, including metals, ceramics and polymers, to be made stronger, lighter and able to withstand increased temperatures and extreme environments.

“Our products are going to change the way materials are viewed,” said Ken. “It’s like introducing plastics for the first time into the commercial marketplace. It’s going to have a significant impact because there are so many different applications and benefits from its use.”

The reinforced material Ken is referencing is called Fi-Bar™, and here’s how it’s made:

Carbon fiber is purchased in shoestring-like spools of filaments called tows. Since carbon fiber doesn’t hold up well in very high temperatures or an environment susceptible to oxidation, it needs a shield. This shield is created from a thin layer of alpha silicon carbide that’s bonded to each individual carbon fiber filament during the Direct Conversion Process™.

Converted carbon fiber on a reel.

Alpha silicon carbide is second in strength only to diamonds, giving Fi-Bar™ it’s highly-desired qualities. Because of the Direct Conversion Process™, incorporating Fi-Bar™ into metals, ceramics and polymers increases their material characteristics, like strength, ultra-high temperature resistance and abrasion resistance, while reducing their weight. Fi-Bar™ can then be put into other materials, transferring those same properties along with it.

“Think of the endless applications where increased strength and lighter weight are beneficial,” said Ken.

From medical rods to turbine engines, and sporting goods to space, the potential for Fi-Bar™ is seemingly infinite, making Advanced Ceramic Fibers one of the strongest companies in Idaho…literally.

The Advanced Ceramic Fibers production facility is located at 2300 N. Yellowstone Hwy., Ste. 210, Idaho Falls, Idaho 83401. Visit their home on the web, www.acfibers.com.

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Company Spotlight: PEET Dryer

As a soldier in the U.S. Army many decades ago, Gene Peet was fed up with putting on the same pair of sweat-soaked boots day after day. After being denied a second pair, Gene took to tinkering and developed a convection dryer out of beer cans to keep his boots free of moisture for the beginning of each shift.

The young Peet family camping with an early PEET propane dryer.

Gene’s invention later translated to civilian life as relief for loggers on the St. Joe river. After a long day splashing through currents, the loggers would wake up to frozen boots, thaw them in boiling water, dump out the water and climb back into them before heading to work. The boot dryer allowed the loggers to start out dry and start out warm.

“The PEET Dryer company was the original founder, designer and inventor of shoe dryers,” said Andy Kennelly, vice president of sales and marketing at PEET Dryer. “People have tried to copy us over the past 50 years and, although they’ve made similar products, they’ve never built them with the exact quality we have.”

From wiring to heat resisters to each and every plastic component, PEET insists on the use of fire-resistant materials throughout, making their dryers the safest and most efficient on the market.

“Gene Peet knew if he built a faulty product, he’d never survive a recall,” Andy said. “He always insisted on only the best quality and best craftsmanship.”

PEET Dryer in the Miami Dolphin locker room circa 1980.

Starting out with a single-pair boot dryer, PEET has now expanded its lineup to include multi-dryers with glove ports, deodorizers and even specialty dehumidifiers for gun safes. Although their innovation continues to grow at a staggering rate, their roots remain deep in Idaho soil.

“Our dryers are still all handmade in a small factory with an all-female workforce,” said Andy. “Working in a small town like St. Maries, we have low turnover. When you have employees that have worked that long for you, you know you have a quality product.”

This family-run business emphasizes the importance of its employees, its customers and its community.

“To have a factory like ours produce steady work and give people a chance to live the lifestyle they want is very special,” Andy said.

PEET Dryer company photo.

Learn more about PEET Dryer on our Tested in Idaho website or at their home on the web, www.peetdryer.com.

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Company Spotlight: Intermountain 3D, Inc.

Lynn and Brian Hoffmann have been in the business of unlocking imaginations since 2014.

“All of our customers are optimistic” said Lynn. “They’re coming in with something they’ve developed, and we make it possible for them to hold in their hands what they had in their mind.”

Lynn and Brian Hoffmann hold their 2018 Idaho Innovation Award finalist trophy.

As the owners of Intermountain 3D, Inc. in Boise, Idaho, the Hoffmanns specialize in 3D design, prototyping and short-run production printing. Their service is vital to product development engineers and entrepreneurs who need to create a perfect prototype before putting tens of thousands of dollars toward molds required for high-volume manufacturing.

“We’ll sometimes print 50 or 60 different iterations of parts and make adjustments for the company until it’s exactly what they need,” said Lynn.

The Hoffmanns recently expanded their business with production capabilities designed to address the 50-500 part need for customers doing short-run production, or mass-customization of production parts.

“One of our customers builds 80-100 shoe inserts at a time, but no two pieces are alike,” said Brian. “3D production printing is ideally suited for volume printing of individually unique parts.”

Interns sort and clean a recent printing batch.

As Hewlett Packard retirees, Lynn and Brian are no strangers to the technology behind printing. After keeping their eye on the 3D printing market, the two decided to start their own business.

“There really wasn’t anyone else in the area doing manufacturing-grade 3D printing,” said Lynn. “Until very recently, no one was doing it in the state at all.”

Once their doors opened, it was time to get to work. Their first print project was an electrode adaptor for a neural researcher in Montana.

“It was a highly precise job, as you can imagine, and he’s still one of our best customers,” Lynn recalls.

Since then, Intermountain 3D, Inc. has been a go-to resource for reverse engineering of existing parts and creating prototypes and finished parts for everything from plumbing supplies to medical devices, assembly line equipment to fishing reels, and aerospace parts to elk bugles.

Lynn and Brian feel fortunate to work with creative product developers throughout the west, putting their advanced manufacturing techniques and expert advice to good use as they help get products to market faster and more effectively.

Intermountain 3D, Inc. is located at 9225 Chinden Blvd, Suite F, Boise, Idaho 83714 or online at www.intermountain3d.com.

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Company Spotlight: The Bridge Cafe

Breakfast burritos, sandwiches, salads and soups. Oh, the delicious soups.

“I make all my soups from scratch,” said Tony Bridges, owner of the Bridge Cafe in Boise, Idaho. “Everyone should try my mulligatawny.”

Tony Bridges, owner of the Bridge Cafe

After 12 years and two previous locations, Tony and his family-run business recently landed in the tunnels of the Len B. Jordan building where he serves homemade meals to patrons from the surrounding Capitol block.

“The location and our prices make it easy for our customers,” said Tony. “I try to make this their home kitchen.”

Slicing, dicing and stirring his way through the kitchen at Bridge Cafe, it’s evident that Tony has a rich history of culinary experience and training. What’s not as evident are the hurdles Tony has overcome to run a successful restaurant.

“It’s called Stargardt,” Tony explains. “There’s a small pinhole in my retina. I have to look slightly to the side to focus on things and see them clearly.”

In Idaho, visually impaired entrepreneurs have access to helpful resources through the Business Enterprise Program offered by the Idaho Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired. According to Program Supervisor Corey Bresina, the purpose of the program is three-fold: to provide opportunities for visually impaired individuals who have an interest and aptitude for operating a facility, to demonstrate alternative techniques for coping with visual impairment, and to educate the public regarding the ability of those individuals to independently operate a business.

“I don’t know if I would get this opportunity in other states,” Tony said. “I appreciate the opportunity I have in Idaho.”

Tony emphasizes that he and his family work really, really (really!) hard for their customers, but don’t just take his word for it, head to Bridge Cafe to taste the difference for yourself.

The Bridge Cafe is located at 650 W. State Street, Boise, Idaho. It is open from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday – Friday.

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Employee Spotlight: Cherie Norris and Kathy Schofield

By Taylor Walker, Public Information Specialist, Idaho Commerce

This summer, the Idaho Commerce office got a little bit brighter with the addition of two new employees, Cherie Norris and Kathy Schofield.

Cherie Norris (left) and Kathy Schofield (right)

Cherie Norris, Grants and Contracts Analyst
As an Idaho Commerce grants and contracts analyst, Cherie is responsible for reviewing grants, ensuring their terms are met, and verifying that funds are used in alignment with statutes and regulations. The bulk of her time is spent working with our Idaho Tourism team.

“It’s something different from the grants I reviewed in past jobs,” said Cherie. “It’s work with a fun focus.”

Previously, Cherie performed similar roles with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and Idaho Housing.

Cherie has two daughters, both University of Idaho graduates, and two dogs. She likes to spend her free time scrapbooking, knitting, cross-stitching and people watching.

Kathy Schofield, Administrative Assistant
Administrative assistants are the glue of any office, and Kathy is no exception. After realizing how much she missed interacting with people throughout the day, Kathy came out of retirement to join the Idaho Commerce team.

“I love promoting this amazing state we have the honor of being a part of,” said Kathy. “Living, playing and growing.”

Kathy has two sons, one daughter, 11 grandchildren and two dogs. Her garden is full of greens and she enjoys quilting, puzzles and any activity that keeps her connected to her family.

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Age of Agility: The Governor’s Conference on the Future of Work

by Eric Forsch, Business Retention & Expansion Manager, Idaho Commerce

Early in the mid-morning sessions at the Age of Agility Conference, the audience was shown a video of a Boston Dynamics robot successfully landing a back flip. What stood out wasn’t the mere shock at watching a robot do something many humans cannot do, nor the rapid acceleration of technological change, but that the robot learned this behavior on its own after trial and error and can teach other robots to complete the task was astonishing.

Robots are not going to replace human workers anytime soon. By all accounts, technological advances will create new jobs and allow people to become more productive. Many companies we have talked to are excited about automation, not because they want to replace workers, but because they want to keep the people they have and increase productivity.

Being ready for this future was the focal point of the conference. Starting with elementary schools, we need to empower teachers, communities, and parents to prepare children for the work of tomorrow. STEM jobs, research and technology, coding are vital for this future and it is crucial we allow our education systems to adapt, especially to a future that is changing so quickly.

Additionally, companies must be agile. It took sixty years for the telephone to be present in more than 80% of US households, but it took the cell phone less than fifteen. What this means for companies is they need to be nimble to succeed. Michael Simpson, President of PAIRIN, noted how his former employer Novell was great at developing new technology, but poor at getting customers to buy it, which serves as a lesson for communities, businesses, and workers of today.

The future is unknown, but for Idaho to continue to lead the nation in job and wage growth, we must continue to adapt and develop our workforce to meet future business needs. For more information on the Idaho Workforce Development Council’s work-based learning initiatives, get started at leader.nextsteps.idaho.gov.

 

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Opportunity Zones Update

With the passing of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the words “Opportunity Zones” have become very popular and promising in the world of economic development. At Idaho Commerce, we have received a number of questions from investors and communities alike wanting to learn more about the program, better understand how to get involved, and strategize on how to best use the tool to benefit Idaho’s economy.

While there is still quite a bit we don’t know yet, below is a brief update on what we do know about Opportunity Zones and Opportunity Funds at this point. As more information becomes available, Idaho Commerce will be a resource to help communities and investors partner to utilize the program successfully in Idaho.

Idaho Opportunity Zones

Idaho Commerce received 59 applications from Idaho counties, cities and tribes to be designated federal Opportunity Zones. Applications were reviewed by the Idaho Economic Advisory Council (EAC) for recommendation to Governor Otter. On April 9th, 2018, the U.S. Treasury officially certified the Governor’s nomination of the 28 low-income census tracts to become Opportunity Zones in Idaho.

A map of Idaho and other US Opportunity Zones may be found here.

What do we know about Opportunity Zones

Opportunity Zones are a new tax incentive created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Investors who invest in Opportunity Zones (designated low-income U.S. Census tracks) may receive deferrals and reductions in federal capital gains taxes.

The longer the Opportunity Zone investment is held, the greater the benefits. Investments must be through a Qualified Opportunity Fund which can be established by individuals, trusts, partnerships and S corporations. At least 90% of an Opportunity Fund investment must be physically located in an Opportunity Zone.

Opportunity Funds are self-certifying, meaning that they do not require the pre-approval of state or federal regulators. Any type of appreciable investment ranging from real estate to venture capital may be eligible for the incentive. 1031 exchanges may be rolled into a Qualified Opportunity Fund provided that the investment substantially improves the Opportunity Zone property within 30 months.

Opportunity Zone benefits may be bundled with other state and federal incentives.

What we don’t know

The U.S. Department of Treasury has not issued final guidelines and forms for Opportunity Zone investors. We anticipate those guidelines will be announced sometime this Fall. Idaho Commerce is working with the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco to promote Idaho’s Opportunity Zones and connect communities and investors with the latest information.

Who can I contact to find out more information on Opportunity Zones

Idaho Commerce is closely monitoring the final guidance from the U.S. Department of Treasury and will continue to update our partners throughout the State. Staff has participated in several webinars and meetings regarding other states efforts to better understand what is expected once the guidelines are finalized. Please feel free to contact Jerry Miller (208-287-0780) at Idaho Commerce with any questions related to Opportunity Zones.

For additional Opportunity Zone information, please visit these resources:

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CNBC Ranks Idaho One of America’s Top States for Business 2018

Choosing where to do business is a big decision. From workforce to costs of doing business, infrastructure to economic health – there are many factors that come into play and many of these elements vary widely from state to state. With so many options and locations to consider – 50 to be exact – what are the elements that make a state a good place to do business?

Each year, CNBC releases a data-driven report detailing the economic climate of all 50 U.S. states. To reach this conclusion, CNBC begins by scoring each state on 64 metrics within 10 categories: workforce, infrastructure, cost of doing business, economy, quality of life, technology and innovation, education, business friendliness, access to capital, and cost of living. Next, CNBC analyzes each state’s economic development marketing materials, then assigns weight to the qualities a state communicates as a strong selling points for business. Learn more about the categories and methodology here.

This year, Idaho ranked 11 overall with a total score of 1496. Our state improved in all 10 categories since 2017, where Idaho landed 20 overall.

Idaho received the most points based on our strengths in cost of doing business, business friendliness and economy, followed closely by cost of living and quality of life.

Cost of Doing Business
Cost is undoubtedly top of mind for companies considering where to do business. Key factors that companies consider include a state’s tax climate, tax incentives, and utility and real estate costs.

Companies that choose to do business in Idaho benefit from low operating costs and the lowest per capita tax burden of any other state. Our top corporate tax rate and top individual income tax rate is 6.925 percent. In addition, qualifying companies reap the benefits of a variety of state-sponsored tax incentives, property tax exemptions, and workforce training grants.

Business Friendliness
In Idaho, we choose to stand besides businesses rather than in their way. We don’t see the need to put restrictions and requirements in place that will slow companies down. Instead, we want companies to work hard and focus on growth and success. We strive to be a partner in helping companies access the people and information necessary to get things done and get down to business.

Idaho’s Rapid Response Team is just one example of our efforts to be a quick and collaborative partner for companies. This team includes representatives from ten of Idaho’s state departments that proactively engage with companies to communicate regulatory requirements and help companies quickly secure permits, discuss infrastructure needs, and uncover opportunities for grants and incentives.

Economy
It’s obvious – a healthy, diverse economy is important, especially for business. Idaho boasts one of the strongest economies in the nation.

Our state budget is balanced, our tax structure is stable, and we have zero state debt. We don’t defer taxes in one business category while increasing taxes in another. Our unemployment rate is low and we’re leading the pack in job creation and growth.

Idaho also has a small and accessible government. Businesses are able to access decision makers and leaders in a variety of industries and sectors. We value relationships and connection in Idaho and recognize the value the ability for a new or expanding business to meet with the people and partners that, in the end, make our state stronger as a whole.

In celebrating our strengths, we must recognize there will always be room for improvement.  This recognition lends the opportunity for businesses, decision-makers and community members across Idaho to seek out ways to take steps forward toward creating a stronger, healthier Idaho for tomorrow.

 

Company Spotlight: Idaho Sewing for Sport, Inc.

Idaho Sewing for Sport, Inc. has served the ski industry for over 40 years. Growing up with many of the ski resorts we know and love, CEO Gunther Williams and team build chair lift seat and tower padding, covers for tubes used on tubing hills, and recently added military and law enforcement training gear to their product offering.

The team at Idaho Sewing for Sport, Inc. is passionate about working in the ski industry but even more passionate about providing good local jobs and wages that benefit their community and the economy. Employees are family and providing an enjoyable work environment is a top priority for Gunther and team.

With the belief that when everyone enjoys where they are working, the products produced are top notch and customers are happiest. This in turn provides the business an opportunity to reinvest in making the lives of employees and community even better. To this end, along with a robust focus on the organization’s culture, Gunther and team recently launched an innovative productivity experiment.

Gunther wanted to test if productivity could be increased by focusing on production needed and not hours working. The team shifted to a 5-hour workday and uses the timeframe as a benchmark to indicate if there are production issues in need of addressing.

So far, the experiment has been a success. Production is up, and employee satisfaction is up. By limiting unproductive time and focusing on production requirements, employees are producing more and getting more time outside the office to enjoy family, friends and activities they love.

It’s this innovative and inventive spirit that keeps Idaho Sewing for Sport, Inc. growing in the ever-competitive ski industry and leading the way in employee production and satisfaction. The next time you’re getting some turns in on your favorite ski hill, be on the lookout for Idaho Sewing for Sport, Inc. products!

 

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Tariff Exclusion Information

As of July 6, 2018, the U.S. is imposing additional 25 percent tariffs on 818 tariff items from China with a trade value of approximately $34 billion.

Simultaneously, the Office of U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced a process to obtain product exclusions from the additional tariffs. The request period will end October 9, 2018. If you want to learn more and would like to file a request, please visit their website.

The Idaho Department of Commerce has a team dedicated to international business. If you have any questions or comments concerning the imposed tariffs or trade, please contact Jennifer Verdon via email or 208-287-3165.

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